A post should appear every Sunday.
Sunday October 2nd 2022
In the comments section of the penultimate post – you can take a horse to water – Tony suggested that a way of breaking Hairy One’s recently acquired habit of refusing to eat her breakfast might be to give her turkey mince. Nancy Labradoodle finds it irresistible, apparently.
I couldn’t access any turkey mince in time for the following morning, so bought free range beef mince instead, and mixed it in with her Burns biscuits. This worked like a charm. Not only did she clear her dish, she didn’t even lift her nose from the dish long enough to bark.
Thank you Tony!
She still struggles to surpress at least two single yaps with each meal, but Human helps immensely by removing the delicious meal immediately, so the wild growling, snapping and leaping throughout the meal isn’t happening any more.
When her food is taken away, her immediate reaction is to seague into a frenzied growly spin mode. I try blocking her so that she can’t spin, and am pleased to see that she is calm enough to eat again within a few seconds.
Another positive for me is that I no longer have to wear a padded gauntlett when I remove her food: even though she objects to what I’m doing, she never attempts to bite me.
Most of her fears have faded. She’s still wary of most other dogs but is able to encounter them without cringing, and sometimes even exchanges a thoughtful sniff. Every now and then she accepts a face lick from Nancy, who realised some time ago that bits of treats may get stuck in a hairy friend’s whiskers!
After her very positive encounters with strangers while she was in Cornwall, I looked forward to her being much less wary of people she encounters on her Birmingham walks. But no, she is only confident with Bev. She is uncomfortable with anyone else she meets.
Even though I am well aware of this, I was very shocked by her reaction to a stranger yesterday.
We park outside the Co-op on Vicarage Road so that I can nip into the shop. The sunroof, boot and all the windows are left open in case the car becomes too warm.
I’m only away a few minutes, but when I turn the key in the ignition, the engine merely chugs. This takes me by surprise since the battery is relatively new. Then I discover that the plastic key cover has cracked, dislodging the key shaft and preventing it from connecting with the immobiliser. Nothing I try remedies the situation.
My mobile isn’t functioning so I can’t ‘phone for help, nor can I remember which rescue service I’m registered with. Since all the windows are all open and all the doors unlocked, I don’t want to abandon the car while we walk home to pick up the spare key.
Eventually, I get Isis out of the car and walk over to two friendly looking guys who have been chatting outside since we first parked. I explain my dilemma, and ask them for how long they’ll be around. They tell me only for about twenty minutes, and I prepare to set off home with Isis.
Then one of these guys says to the other,
“Tell you what – I’ll drive her home to get the key, while you watch the car.”
I warn the guy, whose name I later discover is Michael, that Isis will drop hairs in his car, but he assures me that he has been around dogs all his life and isn’t at all worried about dog hairs! Apparently, his grandmother fostered rescue dogs.
I climb into the front seat hauling a very reluctant Isis onto my lap. Then I discover that she is absolutely terrified. She presses the front of her body into mine and hooks a front leg over each of my shoulders. Her legs and body are rigid with fear and she is shaking like I’ve never felt a dog shake before.
To make matters worse, every now and then, Michael, with the kindest of intentions, gently strokes her head and whispers soothing reassurances. Clearly, he has an affinity with frightened animals. But she doesn’t know the smell of his car, and she doesn’t know him.
I’m devastated to have put her through such a dreadful ordeal. When we arrive, I have to peel her from me and lift her onto the pavement. But as soon as she walks into the porch, she relaxes, and I know she’ll be all right on her own for a few minutes.
Apart from poor Hairy One’s truly gut-wrenching terror, my brief encounter with Michael is a heart-warming experience. On the way back to my car, he tells me about his grandmother and his parents – he has dual nationality. We discuss people’s attitudes towards those of different ethnicity. He isn’t in the slightest judgemental, just intelligent, discerning, empathetic and, I feel, a little sad about how people sometimes close themselves off from those different from themselves.
When I tell him how grateful I am for his kindness to me, someone he’d never met before, he tells me how touched he and his friend were that I approched them and asked for their help. By the time I leave his car, we are both on the edge of tears.
Isis is fine now, but I am still wondering where that terror came from. The incident throws a light on her obvious stress when C. drove us to Cornwall. Although Isis knows and likes C., she has never been in her car before. She loves our car, is eager to jump in, and happy to spend any amount of time travelling or snoozing in it. She has been fine when we’ve had a lift in Bev’s car or Y.’s car.